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Author Topic: Reproducing and improving old images  (Read 17665 times)

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« on: May 12, 2011, 17:23 »
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Hi All

Could I please have some views on reproducing old images and placing them as stock for sale.

I have access to some very old images (>150 years old) which I don't believe have any copywrite issues concerning the original artist.  The images need considerable work to make them suitable for reproduction, such as tonal corrections, spotting, repairs etc.

My question is: Does the work I do to the image constitute adding enough artistic or technical effort to the resulting image to claim copyright over the "changes" such that the image can be added to a stock portfolio.  What about attaching a property release which notes that the property being released is the (considerable) work on the image and that the resulting image is a derivative of an original image that is copywrite free.

I note that there are countless examples of such images available as RF and RM on various sites (many it appears are straight scans without any additional work).

My first thought is that I can do this, provided of course that the agency accepts the image.  But I expect that the answer could be "maybe, maybe not", depending on the image and the personal work done.   However, a range of other/alternate views would be appreciated.

Regards


« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 17:57 »
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There has to be an easier way than riding the back of a now dead photographer.

traveler1116

« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 19:34 »
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I think because the images are that old it's ok for you to use them however you like, even without putting any work into them.  They should be in the public domain.

« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 20:25 »
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"There has to be an easier way than riding the back of a now dead photographer."

Good point.   So... how does this differ from images of almost anything except natural landscapes and model/property released images, ie most "Editorial" images?  Are we "riding the back" of these artists or other subjects, whether dead or not.  Examples include: statues, paintings, ice carvings, architecture, or unreleased images of people? Whether these are in public places or not is irrelevant IMO, we are still riding the back of others intellectual work or, in the case of unreleased people, their likeness. Yes, I understand the journalistic view and reportage of events etc, but many, if not most, editorial images I've seen in portfolios do not fall into this category.
 
In respect to There has to be an easier way; of course there is.  I was not suggesting that we try and live of the income of a few rejuvenated editorial only images sold for pennies.  There's lots of other photography to do.

"I think because the images are that old it's ok for you to use them however you like, even without putting any work into them.  They should be in the public domain."

In a legal sense I suspect you are correct. But I was not suggesting simply turning around other's work.  It's really about compensation for the considerable work undertaken in cleaning up and making an image useable in the public domain. 

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 21:14 »
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"There has to be an easier way than riding the back of a now dead photographer."

Good point.   So... how does this differ from images of almost anything except natural landscapes and model/property released images, ie most "Editorial" images?  Are we "riding the back" of these artists or other subjects, whether dead or not.  Examples include: statues, paintings, ice carvings, architecture, or unreleased images of people? Whether these are in public places or not is irrelevant IMO, we are still riding the back of others intellectual work or, in the case of unreleased people, their likeness. Yes, I understand the journalistic view and reportage of events etc, but many, if not most, editorial images I've seen in portfolios do not fall into this category.
 
In respect to There has to be an easier way; of course there is.  I was not suggesting that we try and live of the income of a few rejuvenated editorial only images sold for pennies.  There's lots of other photography to do.

"I think because the images are that old it's ok for you to use them however you like, even without putting any work into them.  They should be in the public domain."

In a legal sense I suspect you are correct. But I was not suggesting simply turning around other's work.  It's really about compensation for the considerable work undertaken in cleaning up and making an image useable in the public domain.  
You can get by with a property release at shutterstock showing you are the owner of these images. Same thing goes with Big Stock. Now iStock and Dreamstime can be butts about it. I had some go through at iStock with just a property release and other ones that they wanted property release and a model release from two living descendants...lol All these were from the same batch and era. Dreamstime requires the same except they only require one heir...lol Mine sell on Shutterstock and the few that got through on iStock sell every now and then. None of the ones on Big Stock have ever sold and I didn't mess with Dreamstime over it.

« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2011, 02:32 »
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There has to be an easier way than riding the back of a now dead photographer.

Are you saying the photos made by the now dead photographer should be forgotten and hidden in cardboard boxes in some storage?

The problem here is that the original poster needs to know exactly when the photos were taken, I'm guessing most of them doesn't have exact year...?

I think the easiest way would be submitting these to Alamy as RM.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2011, 02:35 by Perry »

« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2011, 02:51 »
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There has to be an easier way than riding the back of a now dead photographer.

Are you saying the photos made by the now dead photographer should be forgotten and hidden in cardboard boxes in some storage?

The problem here is that the original poster needs to know exactly when the photos were taken, I'm guessing most of them doesn't have exact year...?

I think the easiest way would be submitting these to Alamy as RM.

Absolutely right, but please, in the Description have "Photography from So and So, 186X"  . .   give due respect for the artist.

« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2011, 08:05 »
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There has to be an easier way than riding the back of a now dead photographer.

Are you saying the photos made by the now dead photographer should be forgotten and hidden in cardboard boxes in some storage?

The problem here is that the original poster needs to know exactly when the photos were taken, I'm guessing most of them doesn't have exact year...?

I think the easiest way would be submitting these to Alamy as RM.

Absolutely right, but please, in the Description have "Photography from So and So, 186X"  . .   give due respect for the artist.



Yes indeed, in fact even if the photographer and exact date/year are unknown, a description such as "Image by unknown photographer, circa 186x" is entirely appropriate.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2011, 13:56 »
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And what if there's an unknown, deceased model too?
Who can sign a model release? Not even an heir if model is unknown
Editorial?

« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2011, 14:34 »
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Hi All

Could I please have some views on reproducing old images and placing them as stock for sale.

I have access to some very old images (>150 years old) which I don't believe have any copywrite issues concerning the original artist.  The images need considerable work to make them suitable for reproduction, such as tonal corrections, spotting, repairs etc.

My question is: Does the work I do to the image constitute adding enough artistic or technical effort to the resulting image to claim copyright over the "changes" such that the image can be added to a stock portfolio.  What about attaching a property release which notes that the property being released is the (considerable) work on the image and that the resulting image is a derivative of an original image that is copywrite free.

I note that there are countless examples of such images available as RF and RM on various sites (many it appears are straight scans without any additional work).

My first thought is that I can do this, provided of course that the agency accepts the image.  But I expect that the answer could be "maybe, maybe not", depending on the image and the personal work done.   However, a range of other/alternate views would be appreciated.

Regards


If all you're doing is fixing the old images - that is not manipulating them so that the content is different - then you don't have copyright over the changes because you're not creating an original work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgeman_Art_Library_v._Corel_Corp.

The fact of public domain works being for sale in many agencies doesn't mean that the person selling the images has any claim to copyright over those images or any remedy for another person using a copy of those images that end up on a website somewhere.

« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2011, 19:05 »
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I remember the old NASA saga at Istock.

People had downloaded photos from NASA, done a bit of clean up and were selling them (some of them quite successfully)

After much discussion Istock removed quite alot of them. I think using the photos as components in changed work is still allowed.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2011, 19:22 »
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There are several people who seem to do very well on iStock by scanning or photographing images from old books, prints etc. I guess it's the skill of recognising which images might have current commercial value: astonishes me often, but WDIK?

« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2011, 06:57 »
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If all you're doing is fixing the old images - that is not manipulating them so that the content is different - then you don't have copyright over the changes because you're not creating an original work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgeman_Art_Library_v._Corel_Corp.

The fact of public domain works being for sale in many agencies doesn't mean that the person selling the images has any claim to copyright over those images or any remedy for another person using a copy of those images that end up on a website somewhere.


That's fascinating, because when iStock included the Bridgeman library in its collection it maintained it could do so because Bridgeman owned the material the copies had been made on, therefore it had copyright on the images. Furthermore, it claimed that nobody could submit identical works because they might be infringing Bridgeman copyright, even if they had been copied from another source (e.g. scans from an old book). So it seems that Getty, Bridgeman and iStock do not accept the authority of that court ruling.

Technically, the ruling would seem to mean that you can't click the "I own the copyright" boxes on any of the sites. And that would also seem to apply to all the rip-off NASA public domain space images unless they have undergone considerable additional work.

« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2011, 16:51 »
0
If all you're doing is fixing the old images - that is not manipulating them so that the content is different - then you don't have copyright over the changes because you're not creating an original work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgeman_Art_Library_v._Corel_Corp.

The fact of public domain works being for sale in many agencies doesn't mean that the person selling the images has any claim to copyright over those images or any remedy for another person using a copy of those images that end up on a website somewhere.


That's fascinating, because when iStock included the Bridgeman library in its collection it maintained it could do so because Bridgeman owned the material the copies had been made on, therefore it had copyright on the images. Furthermore, it claimed that nobody could submit identical works because they might be infringing Bridgeman copyright, even if they had been copied from another source (e.g. scans from an old book). So it seems that Getty, Bridgeman and iStock do not accept the authority of that court ruling.

Technically, the ruling would seem to mean that you can't click the "I own the copyright" boxes on any of the sites. And that would also seem to apply to all the rip-off NASA public domain space images unless they have undergone considerable additional work.


Whether they accept it or not, Bridgeman lost the case and presumably had to pay the costs of the case. In a practical sense, they still own and have physical possession of the scans and for many purposes are probably the best source of those scans for anyone wanting a high quality image, even if the copyright is in the public domain.

RacePhoto

« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2011, 20:40 »
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Interesting because now I'll have to do some research. If you take a photo of something, you own that photo. (simple point, leading to) If you scan a photo that you own, you own the rights to that scan and the photo. So if someone owns a photo from 1898 for example and they reproduce it - scan or photo- , they own the rights to the reproduction of that image!

Someone else can get the identical image, from another source and make copies and sell them, because it's PD. But they can't just copy yours or mine.

The point is, creating the copy, and editing it, cropping, adjusting, whatever else... makes that copy, individual new property and the owner would hold the rights to that image.

Same reason why you can't take a DVD of some out of copyright movie, buy it for a dollar and make copies yourself and sell them. The creation of the DVD in the first place makes it theirs, not PD for anyone to steal. The word "copyright" started with books long ago and the right to print copies, when the printing press with movable type was invented. Start there... :)



No flames please. If Corel won a case, for the identical materials and situation, it was because they had better lawyers.



Hi All

Could I please have some views on reproducing old images and placing them as stock for sale.

I have access to some very old images (>150 years old) which I don't believe have any copywrite issues concerning the original artist.  The images need considerable work to make them suitable for reproduction, such as tonal corrections, spotting, repairs etc.

My question is: Does the work I do to the image constitute adding enough artistic or technical effort to the resulting image to claim copyright over the "changes" such that the image can be added to a stock portfolio.  What about attaching a property release which notes that the property being released is the (considerable) work on the image and that the resulting image is a derivative of an original image that is copywrite free.

I note that there are countless examples of such images available as RF and RM on various sites (many it appears are straight scans without any additional work).

My first thought is that I can do this, provided of course that the agency accepts the image.  But I expect that the answer could be "maybe, maybe not", depending on the image and the personal work done.   However, a range of other/alternate views would be appreciated.

Regards


If all you're doing is fixing the old images - that is not manipulating them so that the content is different - then you don't have copyright over the changes because you're not creating an original work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgeman_Art_Library_v._Corel_Corp.

The fact of public domain works being for sale in many agencies doesn't mean that the person selling the images has any claim to copyright over those images or any remedy for another person using a copy of those images that end up on a website somewhere.

« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2011, 02:53 »
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Racephoto - the point of that court ruling appears to be that Bridgeman owns the bit of paper that they copy the image onto, but that doesn't give them any rights over the image itself. If you copy the image off their bit of paper, you aren't taking anything that belongs to them so they have no right to complain. That seems to make a lot of sense and I think it is making an unjustified and irrational leap to claim that the only reason the judge ruled as he did was because one side had a better lawyer than the other. Couldn't it equally well be that the law is clear and the judge ruled correctly?
Secondly, is there case-law in the US? If so, isn't this a legal precedent for any future cases?

Your example seems to be flawed to me in that it fails to distinguish between property rights and intellectual property rights. If I give someone a photo I've taken, then they own that photo. If they scan my photo it doesn't give them rights to the reproduction of that image, they can't take my rights away from me. Why should absence of copyright mean that somebody can seize the copyright simply by making a scan, if they can't do that when there is an existing copyright?

So, logically, the idea of turning public domain material into copyrighted material simply by scanning it doesn't make sense. Of course, the legal position may have nothing to do with logic or sense but the actual court ruling suggests that it does.

It may be that you are wrong about copying out-of-copyright films, too. Film copyright would be very complicated - who is the author? Is it the company? If a company is a person in law and copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author, then as long as the company is legally alive the countdown won't even start, will it? I don't know. The copyright extensions Hollywood presses for could have more to do with the ownership of characters, such as Mickey Mouse, which have an identified mortal creator and continuing value in the creation of new products, than with copyright over films which are collaborative, company funded creations.

So there are some thoughts but, of course, the law is a minefield even for those who make a living from it, let alone the rest of us.

« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2011, 03:45 »
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Racephoto - the point of that court ruling appears to be that Bridgeman owns the bit of paper that they copy the image onto, but that doesn't give them any rights over the image itself. If you copy the image off their bit of paper, you aren't taking anything that belongs to them so they have no right to complain. That seems to make a lot of sense and I think it is making an unjustified and irrational leap to claim that the only reason the judge ruled as he did was because one side had a better lawyer than the other. Couldn't it equally well be that the law is clear and the judge ruled correctly?
Secondly, is there case-law in the US? If so, isn't this a legal precedent for any future cases?

Your example seems to be flawed to me in that it fails to distinguish between property rights and intellectual property rights. If I give someone a photo I've taken, then they own that photo. If they scan my photo it doesn't give them rights to the reproduction of that image, they can't take my rights away from me. Why should absence of copyright mean that somebody can seize the copyright simply by making a scan, if they can't do that when there is an existing copyright?

So, logically, the idea of turning public domain material into copyrighted material simply by scanning it doesn't make sense. Of course, the legal position may have nothing to do with logic or sense but the actual court ruling suggests that it does.

It may be that you are wrong about copying out-of-copyright films, too. Film copyright would be very complicated - who is the author? Is it the company? If a company is a person in law and copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author, then as long as the company is legally alive the countdown won't even start, will it? I don't know. The copyright extensions Hollywood presses for could have more to do with the ownership of characters, such as Mickey Mouse, which have an identified mortal creator and continuing value in the creation of new products, than with copyright over films which are collaborative, company funded creations.

So there are some thoughts but, of course, the law is a minefield even for those who make a living from it, let alone the rest of us.

I think you sum it up pretty well.

The case is a US authority which technically is binding in New York, but seems to have been followed in other states. Its influential for the UK as well because it comments on UK copyright law without determining the case on that basis. Being a US case it isn't of course binding in the UK.

I think one of the reasons a similar case hasn't been brought in the UK is that museums or archives like Bridgeman stand to loose far more than any potential gain if they don't win.

For practical purposes, the case doesn't mean you can't sell scans or whatever of public domain material, just that if someone decided to copy those images rather than buying them, theres not much you can do about it.


« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2011, 04:00 »
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Yeah, but strictly speaking you can't click on the "I own the copyright" button without making a false declaration. Not that I believe anybody would really care.

RacePhoto

« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2011, 19:51 »
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Yeah, but strictly speaking you can't click on the "I own the copyright" button without making a false declaration. Not that I believe anybody would really care.

OK here's part one:

At the outset, it is worth noting that the post-judgment flurry was occasioned chiefly by the fact that the plaintiff failed competently to address most of the issues raised by this interesting case prior to the entry of final judgment.

Have a better lawyer, doesn't mean it's not a case of the plaintiff having a worse lawyer. It's all relative. Also getting one judge's opinion in New York, when the case cited UK law is an odd way to attack the question.

I do agree that if someone just scans something that's PD and claims to own the copyright, it's a stretch to say it's original when the case says, it is uncontested that Bridgeman's images are substantially exact reproductions of public domain works, albeit in a different medium.

So when you buy a movie on DVD that someone else copied directly from a film, and they claim copyright to the creation, it may be a bluff?

Consider this. You can't copyright a recipe (or a joke). Simple enough. But you can copyright a collection of recipes, as a cookbook, or collection of jokes as a joke book. But wait, if it's nothing but copying verbatim, a group of recipes why? And if the same holds for collections... then Bridgeman's argument should have been that they own the copyright for the collection! I suppose Corel could have said, theirs was a different collect of the identical images.  ;D

This covers it well enough: "where a photograph of a photograph or other printed matter is made that amounts to nothing more than slavish copying". So a copy of something PD, identical copy, can't be protected according to that opinion. All those DVDs of old movies are not protected! Go buy one for $5 and make a thousand copies and sell them for $2 each, this ruling would seem to support that they are not protected.

My other stumbling point and it's bothered me, but we're just observers, not lawyers and not in the system. You can take a bunch of photos and re-arrange them and call it a collage and according to recent cases, they are a new work, so not infringing (I think it was some shoe ads and feet that was a big case?) But someone can't sample a bit of music, alter it, and put it into another work, because that's stealing. What's the difference? The courts say there's a difference? I think music sampling is much more creative than stealing Marlboro ads and painting some blobs of yellow or splashing color on them, and calling that original. And the artist won that case for derivative. (what a sack...) Nice that he lost the next case for stealing photographs again and trying to do the same thing to someones private works.

So that brings up point two: what state, what judge. You might take the same case to California and present the same details and get the opposite ruling.

Of course I'm forced to agree that case law, seems to point at, scanning of old images, does not create a new work, which can be copyrighted. At least not this month!  ::)

As the decision of a federal district court, Bridgeman is not binding precedent on other federal or state courts...

I noticed today while uploading an image to SS that it says clearly that they do not want copies, photos or scans of PD images, unless the person submitting it OWNS the physical work themselves. I think that clears up the question that started this. Does someone want to go to the library and grab a bunch of old PD images and upload them. I'd say, the answer is no and it could get interesting if someone licenses that image, because the person paying for the download apparently can use it all they want for anything they want. No protection. Can I say NASA images? Remember that whole fiasco? Yes, you can use them as an element of some new creation, they are PD.

I'm not sure I'd go along with your contention that putting a copyright on something PD would be cause for action against the party selling it. If it is, can we get rich filing suits against all the PD dvds of crummy old TV shows and old movies? There you go, how to make money with microstock. Sue for misrepresentation. LOL

Back to the original question. It looks like the agencies don't want old PD images and just copying or re-creating them on a different medium (digital) doesn't give you the right to protection. But I don't think that stops anyone from licensing them for profit either.

When I was looking at selling on the web with K-tools or something else, I found one where the paper people had scanned old postcards (all PD and unprotected because of age) and were selling those scans for $1 a download. That ended the thought of doing something similar for a better price. Really, $1 downloads? Didn't someone get shouted down a few years ago for proposing a Micro site that did that? ???

RacePhoto

« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2011, 21:28 »
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There are several people who seem to do very well on iStock by scanning or photographing images from old books, prints etc. I guess it's the skill of recognising which images might have current commercial value: astonishes me often, but WDIK?


Interesting answer that I found while searching for something else. Although the answer is still it depends and one would have to take it to trial for an answer in each case. As individual scans, I'd say, that we can't copyright a scanned copy of something PD. That doesn't mean we can't sell it and have it on stock sites, hoping that someone doesn't copy it. But in effect, if someone wants to reuse or do anything they want, a scan of a PD image is not a new work. It comes back to where we went before. If you make a collection of these and copyright them, then that work is protected but the individual images is not substantially altered and are still PD.

http://www.justanswer.com/intellectual-property-law/5ajt6-hi-looking-use-public-domain-images-2500.html

The images in question from Morphart who has 1300+ of these.

http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=Engraving&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=Morphart&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1

Lets see if I read this right. I can get a subscription from SS, download the 1300 images,very well done scans, made into vectors and start selling them?

Ultimately it depends on whether enough modification has been done to make the new work transformative or rather merely derivative. To be honest, most likely it's not legally a new copyrighted image.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 21:31 by RacePhoto »

« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2011, 02:52 »
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This is the best thread from forum . Found really interesting & helpful . Thanks to bizair

RacePhoto

« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2011, 13:17 »
0
This is the best thread from forum . Found really interesting & helpful . Thanks to bizair


Good and maybe this will help to, since it changed since I went to college. I knew the old laws and had to be corrected by people here. This is a very simple and short overview, there are many more situations and conditions. This is for photographs.

Before 1923 is all PD. With all the changes it's a mess.

1923 -1963 = 95 years after the publication date.
The next date that 1923 materials go PD is 2019. It's been on a hold since they altered the laws to 95 years.

[All terms of copyright run through the end of the calendar year in which they would otherwise expire, so a work enters the public domain on the first of the year following the expiration of its copyright term.  For example, a book published on 15 March 1923 will enter the public domain on 1 January 2019, not 16 March 2018 (1923+95=2018). ]

1964 - 1977, it's 95 years after the publication date. 2060 they start to go PD

Then 1978 on, the Mickey Mouse / Sonny Bono laws kick in.
70 years after the death of author. If a work of corporate authorship, 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.

Further information:

http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

Lists the Sound Recording laws, which are chaos and the newer architectural protections. Good reading.

And welcome to the forums.  :)

« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2011, 02:03 »
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Great fact & figures  Racephoto   :'(


 

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